Review: Testimony


I have been a fan of Anita Shreve since reading ‘The Pilot’s Wife’ (Oprah selection) in the late 90’s. I might go as far as saying she is one of my favorite authors. This book was good but not nearly as good as some of her past books such as 'Resistance', 'The Pilot’s Wife' or 'Fortune's Rock'. As always she tells a good story that has some good thought provoking conversational undertones to it.

The book begins with the school master receiving a tape – what’s on the tape changes the lives of many people. A moment of wild abandon sweeps through the entire school, their families, and the community in which they live.

Told by 22 characters, this story begins with the fateful moment and then takes you back in time to explain the events leading up to the moment and forward to lay out the consequences.

The idea for this story is good but I had a hard time connecting to any of the characters, it was challenging reading over 20 views of the event and piecing everything together.

Visit Anita Shreve’s website to listen to an interview and watch video footage discussing the origins of 'Testimony'.

Awards include the PEN/L. L. Winship Award and the New England Book Award for fiction

Excerpt from an author interview:

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
I sort of felt it all along except that, you know, in my family I was encouraged to do something more practical. So I don't think I ever thought about it realistically when I graduated from Tufts.

The New England setting is a constant in your books. Is that because you live here and grew up here, in Dedham?
To an extent. My books do reflect their geography and a New England character, if there is one. I think my characters are all very drawn to the sea. Very drawn to nature. Observant. Somewhat dignified. Prone to disaster — emotional disaster.

The Pilot's Wife was selected for Oprah's Book Club. How did you get the news?
I was out, and when I got back to my office I saw I had all these missed calls. It was Oprah's assistant, and he was pretending to be part of a small literary group in Chicago. When I called back, he said, "My boss wants to speak to you." The next thing I knew, Oprah was on the other end of the line; her voice is unmistakable. She just said, "Anita." I responded, "Hello." Then she said, "I loved your book." I said, "Thank you."

Type: Fiction, 320 pages, hardcover


Synopsis:
At a New England boarding school, a sex scandal is about to break. Even more shocking than the sexual acts themselves is the fact that they were caught on videotape. A Pandora's box of revelations, the tape triggers a chorus of voices--those of the men, women, teenagers, and parents involved in the scandal--that details the ways in which lives can be derailed or destroyed in one foolish moment.


Writing with a pace and intensity surpassing even her own greatest work, Anita Shreve delivers in TESTIMONY a gripping emotional drama with the impact of a thriller. No one more compellingly explores the dark impulses that sway the lives of seeming innocents, the needs and fears that drive ordinary men and women into intolerable dilemmas, and the ways in which our best intentions can lead to our worst transgressions.

Reviews:

“Shreve writes crisp, evocative sentences that can pierce like shards of fine glass” – Entertainment Weekly

“Once again Anita Shreve delivers an elegant novel with betrayal at its core… an often lovely read.” – New York Daily News

Review: The Godmother


The Godmother, written by Carrie Adams

"As I have learned over the years, your friends don’t change; you just learn to ignore or embrace the bad bits." – Carrie Adams

On the weekends I enjoy classic chic-lit while working out, relaxing and watching movies (my husband watches “kill’m, sock’m, fight’m” movies while I have a book in my hands). This last weekend I picked up ‘The Godmother’, as story about a thirty something woman with seven best friends, four godchildren, and one big wish – to have a life of her own.

We follow Tessa through her life of being a godmother balancing the urge to be the ultimate best friend to seven others and trying to figure out what’s next in her own life.

The storyline didn’t move fast enough for me, I was trying to figure out where the story was going two thirds through the book. It may be a good beach read about a circle of friends and the last third of the book moves very fast and the story wraps up nicely. I enjoyed the last third of the book.

Carrie Adams lives in London with her husband and three children.

Type: Fiction, 462 pages, trade paperback

Synopsis:
Tessa King is the perpetual Godmother: Godmother to six of her friends' children, but no children of her own. While she had always been content with her role as uber-Godmother, she's now ready for a family of her own. There's only one problem: the man she's in love with is married to someone else. As Tessa becomes more involved in her godchildren's lives, she quickly realizes that parenting isn't always giggles and cuddling: it's a life-long contract and you never get to read the small print. She witnesses first-hand that babies can drive their parents apart, children can be very sick, and seemingly overnight a loving little boy can turn into a dope-smoking, foul-mouthed truant. Is Tessa really ready to become a mother—to give up a life that her friends truly envy?

Reviews:
“A clever, unpredictable novel about a smart, glamorous but perpetually single London lawyer’s belated coming-of-age” – Washington Post

“A poignant, surprisingly insightful first novel.” – Parenting magazine

Tomato Girl Discussion and Author Q&A


Tomato Girl written by Jayne Pupek

Thank you Lisa for hosting 12 women (a record)! We all agreed this book is a must read for book clubs, especially if you are looking for a novel with a lot to discuss. We have never discussed a book for as long – SO much to discuss!

Here are the highlights of our discussion:

Jayne Pupek grew up in Virginia and mentioned she didn’t dream of becoming a writer as a child, it was like saying you wanted to be an astronaut when you grew up. Jayne has been writing poetry her entire life, grew up with family members working in/near the field of mental illness and decided to major in psychology in college. She was a social worker before becoming a full time mother and author.

Tomato Girl started as a narrative poem written 8 years ago (the poem has not been published). Jayne had no intentions to write a novel but after signing up for a novel writing workshop a few years ago page one was written and the rest is history. She shared with us that poetry contains images and metaphors and books have a beginning, middle and end.

When asked if she knew how the book would end, Jayne told us that she knew Ellie would be ok and that someone stable would be part of her life and take care of her. All other elements of the book were unknown when she started writing Tomato Girl.

We all thought the book read as a Gothic Novel, Jayne mentioned she wanted to write a timeless book, reader’s should work a little bit.

Jayne tries to write daily and treats writing as a job. You can always edit a bad page, you can’t edit a blank page. She is working on a second book focusing on a child with a disability and how it impacts the family.

A special thank you to Jayne, for meeting with us. Good luck finishing your next book, I can't wait to read it.

Click here to read B&b ex libris review

Review: Good Luck


Good Luck, by Whitney Gaskell, is the type of book I needed to read this weekend! A fun light read letting me escape a crazy busy work week. This is a fun story about Lucy who is having the worst day of her life. She is fired from her job, meets with a close friend to commiserate (who gives her the idea of buying a lottery ticket) and breaks up with her boyfriend all before noon.

The next day Lucy learns she has won the 87 Million dollar lottery and her life changes! This book explores trust - who to trust and when to trust. Are your closest friends (and family) sharing/mentioning things to you as a confidant or asking you to pay their bills – this theme is throughout the book. Lucy needs to relearn to love life and build trusting friendships along the way.

Type: Fiction, 385 pages, Trade paperback

Synopsis:
Lucy Parker wins the lottery on the worst day of her life. But can all the money in the world make up for a cheating boyfriend, a derailed career, and ending up in the middle of a media circus? Everyone wants a piece of Lucy…and all she wants is to escape from it all.
After life as she knows it falls apart, Lucy heads off to Palm Beach to hide out at the home of an old college friend. There, living in a tropical paradise of millionaires, Lucy acquires a new hair color, a new social set, and enough anonymity to put her notoriety behind her. Soon she's courted by two men who don’t know her history.

But just as Lucy begins to envision a new life for herself, the past catches up with her. Lucy would give up every penny to have her old life back—but just as she’s ready to cash it all in, fate has one last surprise in store for her…one that will show her exactly what she’s worth.
Reviews:
Read the book that Booklist praises as an emotional roller coaster of a novel!

Review: Up High in the Trees


Kiara Brinkman, author of ‘Up high in the Trees’, grew up first in the Midwest and them some more in California. She graduated from Brown University and earned her MFA from Goddard College. She has been working with children her whole life, and currently lives in San Francisco.

‘Up high in the Trees’ is an interesting look at the grieving process from the eyes of an eight year old boy. This novel is moving and disturbing, the characters are very real, and you find yourself cheering for Sebby from page one.

The narrator has autism and sees the world in a different manner. Thrust into a confused family in the midst of a serious loss, this young boy's simple, honest depiction of his family and his own pain and path to acceptance is engaging, touching and well written.

Type: Fiction, 336 pages, Hardcover

Synopsis:
An exquisite debut novel about a family in turmoil told in the startling, deeply affecting voice of a nine-year-old, autistic boy. Following the sudden death of Sebby’s mother, his father takes Sebby to live in the family’s summerhouse, hoping it will give them both time and space to recover. But Sebby’s father deteriorates in this new isolation, leaving Sebby struggling to understand his mother’s death alone, dreaming and even re-living moments of her life. He ultimately reaches out to a favorite teacher back home and to two nearby children who force him out of the void of the past and help him to exist in the present. In spare and gorgeous prose buoyed by the life force of its small, fearless narrator, Up High in the Trees introduces an astonishingly fresh and powerful literary voice.

Reviews:
“An astonishing debut… SebbyLane is a Little Prince for our times.” – Christina Garcia

Excerpt from author interview with ELISABETH SCHMITZ, VP Executive Editor at Grove/Atlantic, interviews KIARA

ES: You do a lot of work with children—can you talk about why you enjoy that?—
KB: I like being around children because they’re honest, spontaneous, surprising. I don’t subscribe to the belief that children are angelic, perfect beings. I just think of them as young and new to life, and so in need of guidance and support, because the world can be a scary place.

Plus, I think I’m a better person when I’m around children—in that I’m generally more patient, more open-minded, kinder. I know, at the very least, children deserve to be understood and treated with respect.

ES: The young narrator in Up High displays some of the behaviors associated with autism. Can you talk a little about the work you’ve done with children on the spectrum?—
KB: One of the students at the afterschool program where I worked had Asperger Syndrome, so I became interested in autism as I got to know this particular young boy. He could be challenging at times, because his responses to seemingly small things were dramatic. If he got upset, he’d hide or refuse to talk. I learned to make sure to discuss the day’s schedule with him in advance, prepare him for transitions and, when necessary, guide him through peer interaction. It helped that right away, he and I got along well. I’m not the kind of teacher who gets all amped-up around kids— I think they can see right through that sort of energy— I tend to be just myself, and he responded to that.

This boy was incredibly bright. Out of nowhere, he’d ask the most interesting questions. I remember once, we were walking to the park on a field trip and he was my partner—we had to walk everywhere in pairs. I was asking him something boring about school, and he said, “Why do they call it footage?” He was referring, I correctly assumed, to film. I thought about it, and then guessed that maybe it was because filmmakers measured what they’d captured by the foot. Anyway, he made me think about things that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise, which I appreciated. I learned a lot from him in that way.

ES: So, in Up High, where does the narrator’s voice comes from?—
KB: I had Sebby’s voice in my head all the way back in college. It was something I’d played around with in short stories.

His voice really comes from me— he’s a more distilled, visceral version of myself— or, more accurately, who I was as a kid. Though, to be honest, I still have some of Sebby’s instincts— I mean, don’t we all? Aren’t there moments when you’d like to hide under a table to escape an uncomfortable situation or just be alone with your thoughts?

I think that being around the boy I tutor as well as the boy at the afterschool program helped me to better understand and further shape Sebby’s character, but the voice really originates from me.

Josh Henkin - Author interview


I have posted an author interview with Josh Henkin, author of 'Matrimony', to the MMBC page. I would like to thank Josh personally for taking the time to answer my questions and for his involvement with book clubs across the country.

Our discussion of Matrimony will begin on March 4th, anyone can join us. Watch for details over the next few weeks.

Guest Review: Mistress of the Art of Death


Reviewed by Lisa

"Mistress of the Art of Death" by Ariana FranklinThis murder mystery set in medival England combines modern forensic science with historical fiction. An unlikely trio, including a very rare female medical examiner, travel to England from Italy to investigate the kidnapping and murder of three children. This one really caught me up and I couldn't put it down. I got a great picture of life in that time and place, was surprised by the ending and enjoyed the look at the battle between the church and the King Henry II.

Type: Fiction, 432 pages, Trade paperback

Synopsis:

A chilling, mesmerizing novel that combines the best of modern forensic thrillers with the detail and drama of historical fiction.

In medieval Cambridge, England, four children have been murdered. The crimes are immediately blamed on the town's Jewish community, taken as evidence that Jews sacrifice Christian children in blasphemous ceremonies. To save them from the rioting mob, the king places the Cambridge Jews under his protection and hides them in a castle fortress. King Henry I is no friend of the Jews-or anyone, really-but he is invested in their fate. Without the taxes received from Jewish merchants, his treasuries would go bankrupt. Hoping scientific investigation will exonerate the Jews, Henry calls on his cousin the King of Sicily-whose subjects include the best medical experts in Europe-and asks for his finest "master of the art of death," an early version of the medical examiner. The Italian doctor chosen for the task is a young prodigy from the University of Salerno. But her name is Adelia-the king has been sent a mistress of the art of death.

Adelia and her companions-Simon, a Jew, and Mansur, a Moor-travel to England to unravel the mystery of the Cambridge murders, which turn out to be the work of a serial killer, most likely one who has been on Crusade with the king. In a backward and superstitious country like England, Adelia must conceal her true identity as a doctor in order to avoid accusations of witchcraft. Along the way, she is assisted by Sir Rowley Picot, one of the king's tax collectors, a man with a personal stake in the investigation. Rowley may be a needed friend, or the fiend for whom they are searching. As Adelia's investigation takes her into Cambridge's shadowy river paths and behind the closed doors of its churches and nunneries, the hunt intensifies and the killer prepares to strike again...

Reviews:
The lonely figure who truly stands out in Franklin’s vibrant tapestry of medieval life is King Henry – an enlightened monarch condemned to live in dark times. – The NY Times

Review: Late Nights on Air


2007 Giller Prize Winner - (dedicated to celebrating the best in Canadian fiction each year, and to enhancing marketing efforts in bringing these books to the attention of all Canadians.)

Let me start by confessing my affection for Canadian writers. The quality of writing is incredible and the stories are fresh and new to me. My selection process is to choose a novel that has won or been shortlisted for a literary award, and the location of the story is important. I love reading about the small towns, and living in rural Canada.

Late Nights on Air is slow paced but so well written, every word has a purpose. This is the type of book that you want to read slowly and take it all in.

The story centers on the lives of a few people working at a radio station in a small town and take a life impacting journey together. We get to know the characters so well, each flawed and with their own quirks. You will enjoy this story if you are looking to read a very well written novel with a strong story (but not edgy).

Author background: Elizabeth Hay was born in Ontario and at the age of fifteen, a year in England opened up her world and set her on the path to becoming a writer. In 1974 she went north to Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories. For the next ten years she worked as a CBC radio broadcaster in Yellowknife, Winnipeg, and Toronto, and eventually freelanced from Mexico. In 1986 she moved from Mexico to New York City, and in 1992, with her husband and two children, she returned to Canada, settling in Ottawa, where she has lived ever since.

Type: Fiction, 376 pages, Trade paperback

Synopsis:
It's 1975 when beautiful Dido Paris arrives at the radio station in Yellowknife, a frontier town in the Canadian north. Her enchanting voice disarms hard-bitten broadcaster Harry Boyd and electrifies the station, setting into motion rivalries both professional and sexual. As the drama at the station unfolds, a proposed gas pipeline threatens to rip open the land, inspiring many people to find their voices for the first time. This is the moment before television conquers the north's attention, when the future of the Arctic hangs in the balance. After the snow melts, four members of the radio station take a long canoe trip into the Barrens, a mysterious landscape of lingering ice and 24-hour light. The unexpected turns lethal — is it too late for Dido and Harry? Stark, witty, and dynamically charged, this dazzling tale embodies the power of a place and of the human voice to breed love and haunt the memory.

Reviews:

“Exquisite… Hay creates enormous spaces with few words, and makes the reader party to the journey, listening, marveling…” – Globe and Mail

“Psychologically astute, richly rendered and deftly paced. It’s a pleasure from start to finish.” – Toronto Star

Review: Mom-in-Chief


I love a good parenting book! I have a few solid resources that I have recommended to many friends over the years. Jamie Woolf’s new book is the type of book I love to read, it reinforces that we ARE doing the right thing and provides many tips. I appreciate the correlation between our careers and running a household - confirmation that it IS okay.

I have a copy of Jamie’s new book to give-a-way. Send me an email with ‘Mom-in-Chief’ in the subject line if you are interested in receiving a free copy. I will select a winner at random on Monday Feb 16th.

You can purchase this book at Amazon in hardcover or electronically for Kindle

Author Q&A:

Tell us a little about yourself (biography): I have always loved to write and have been passionate about leadership for decades--what makes some leaders bring out the worst in people and others bring out the best. Then when I had my first child, I grew more and more convinced that the best leaders and the most effective parents use many of the same skills to unleash the potential of others.

Do you write daily? I write daily--sometimes just blog, sometimes I write essays, sometimes poetry, sometimes journal entries about my kids

What do you think of the electronic book (kindles and such)? I haven't tried kindle. I still like holding books.
What is one tip that you can share with aspiring writers? I think aspiring writers should read voraciously
What are you reading now? I'm reading Barack Obama's Dreams From My Father and astonished by how well written it is, and how honest and vulnerable he is

Lastly, share one or two of your all time favorite novels read, excluding classics: My all time favorite book- Go Dog GoOK, and for those of you who want something a little more sophisticated, The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
From Jamie’s website:

We work so hard to build our management and leadership skills in our careers, but we often feel like blithering idiots when faced with a child who won't cooperate, a husband who doesn't pay attention and a household that seems ready to collapse from the weight of our anxiety about chores. “Why can't I be as smart at home as I am at work?” I have often found myself wondering.
Mom-in-Chief offers practical solutions to common leadership dilemmas, including:
- When to step in and when to step back
- Why working with your spouse or partner is crucial to executive function and team happiness.
- How to maximize the learning opportunities that come from mistakes
- How to stay connected with a pesky toddler or testy teenager
- How to create rituals that strengthen the family's esprit de corps
- How to feel less like a maid or short-order cook and more like a skilled leader capable of unleashing the potential of others

Jamie Woolf is a veteran leadership consultant and contributor to Working Mother Magazine who does special trainings, radio shows, workshops, webcasts, and conference appearances for the magazine. In addition, Woolf is CEO and founder of The Parent Leader and Pinehurst Consulting; she works with corporate clients to help companies be more productive and family friendly. Jamie Woolf lives with her husband and two daughters in Oakland, California.
Type: Parenting, 262 pages, hardcover
Reviews:“Jamie Woolf makes a strong and compelling case that good parenting not only requires real leadership skills but also strengthens them.” – Dee Dee Myers author, ‘Why women should rule the World’ and former White House press secretary

“Being a mom means being a leader, and that is exactly what Jamie Woolf explores in her delightfully engaging, masterfully researched, and highly practical new book.” - Jim Kouzes, co-author, ‘The Leadership Challenge”

Author Q&A: Jayne Pupek


In a few weeks my book group will be meeting with Jayne Pupek, to discuss her novel 'Tomato Girl. This is a well written, complicated story about a dysfunctional family, told from the voice of a ten year old girl. In preparation for our discussion, Jane answered a few "getting to know you" questions for us:

Tell us a little about yourself: I'm a Virginia native, married with three children, and a former social worker. Tomato Girl is my first novel. I'm also the author of a book of poems titled Forms of Intercession.

Do you write daily? Yes, I do. I rarely miss a day. As soon as I finish my first cup of coffee, I'm usually off to the computer. A lot of writing is re-writing, so sometimes I'm working on a passage I've written. Other times, I work on something new.

Are you working on a new book or have an idea for one? I'm putting the finishing touches on another novel now, but I don't like to talk about works in progress. To me, talking about a work that isn't complete is akin to opening the oven door while the cake is baking. Too much of it ruins the effort.

What do you think of the electronic book (kindles and such)? I don't own a kindle, so I can't really say whether I like it or not. I enjoy the feel of a real book, and yet I can see some advantages to an electronic one. Space can be a big issue for a booklover, so it might be nice to keep some books on a device instead of adding one more bookshelf to the house. Also, for travel, I believe a kindle would be a lot easier than lugging around four or five hardbound books. What is one tip that you can share with aspiring writers? I believe anyone who wants to write can write. The most important tip is simply to show up and write. Talking about writing is not writing. Researching a topic is not writing. Reading books is not writing. Those may be important things, but often they can be simply ways to avoid the blank page.

What are you reading now? I'm currently reading Richard Yates' Revolutionary Road and look forward to seeing the film adaptation.

Lastly, share one or two of your all time favorite novels read, excluding classics:
I prefer poetry to fiction, so if I had to choose my very favorite book, it would be Ariel by Sylvia Plath. In terms of fiction, I think Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee is brilliant.

Review: Matrimony


This is the love story of Julian and Mia. Meeting as freshman, we watch them grow up and face life’s failures and successes over the next 15 years.
Mia’s mother is diagnosed with breast cancer during their senior year, she is afraid her mother may not survive to experience life’s milestones and Mia asks Julian to marry her, wanting her mother to attend their wedding.

The story follows their careers, Mia aspirations to get a PhD and Julian’s desire to write a novel. Josh Henkin is an author and a professor himself, he writes about a subject near to his heart and as I read the pages I really connected with Julian and Mia. The storyline keeps evolving and the journey is a welcome one. This book is comforting, life is messy but worth living.

Matrimony is our March MMBC selection (watch for an author Q&A and online discussion early March)

Type: Fiction, 304 pages, Trade paperback

Synopsis:
It's the fall of 1986, and Julian Wainwright, an aspiring writer, arrives at Graymont College in New England. Here he meets Carter Heinz, with whom he develops a strong but ambivalent friendship, and beautiful Mia Mendelsohn, with whom he falls in love. Spurred on by a family tragedy, Julian and Mia's love affair will carry them to graduation and beyond, taking them through several college towns, over the next fifteen years. Starting at the height of the Reagan era and ending in the new millennium, Matrimony is a stunning novel of love and friendship, money and ambition, desire and tensions of faith. It is a richly detailed portrait of what it means to share a life with someone-to do it when you're young, and to try to do it afresh on the brink of middle age.

Reviews:
“Elicits a passionate investment in the fate of its characters – truly an up-all-night read.” – The Washington Post

“Beautifully render(s) the give and take, back and forth of marriage over the long haul.” – The New Observer

Guest Review: Bloodsucking Fiends


reviewed by Alyssa

Everyone seems to love Christopher Moore novels – I haven’t read any of his books but want to thank Alyssa for her guest review.

Jody wakes up one day to find herself disheveled, bruised...and a vampire. How she transitions from a nine-to-five working drudge to a creature of the night makes for a great new take on an old genre.

The back of this book has a lot of reviews that say it is "laugh out loud funny." I didn't find myself laughing out loud but the book is very humorous. Moore has a light writing style that can give the wrong impression of a book that will not be well written--not so. The writing style is perfect to the story Moore is telling. I enjoyed it so much that I have already purchased the follow up, "You Suck."

Type: Fiction, 290 pages, Trade paperback

Synopsis:
Jody never asked to become a vampire. But when she wakes up under an alley Dumpster with a badly burned arm, an aching back, superhuman strength, and a distinctly Nosferatuan thirst, she realizes the decision has been made for her.Making the transition from the nine-to-five grind to an eternity of nocturnal prowlings is going to take some doing, however, and that's where C. Thomas Flood fits in. A would-be Kerouac from Incontinence, Indiana, Tommy (to his friends) is biding his time night-clerking and frozen-turkey bowling in a San Francisco Safeway. But all that changes when a beautiful undead redhead walks through the door...and proceeds to rock Tommy's life -- and afterlife -- in ways he never thought possible.

Review: The Canterbury Tales


I am pleased to say I finished reading Canterbury Tales last night and have to say this is an entertaining novel. Click here to read my previous post explaining that I am participating in an online class discussing the novel. I especially enjoyed ‘The Miller’s Tale’ which treads an ambiguous line between the serious and the comic.

Type: Classic, 626 pages, Trade paperback

Synopsis:
An illustrated retelling of Geoffrey Chaucer's famous work in which a group of pilgrims in fourteenth-century England tell each other stories as they travel on a pilgrimage to the cathedral at Canterbury.

Like Charles Lamb's edition of Shakespeare, Hastings's loose prose translation of seven of Chaucer's tales is more faithful to the work's plot than to the poet's language. This is not a prudish retelling (even the bawdy Miller's tale is included here) but the vigor of Chaucer's text is considerably tamed. In the original, the pilgrims possess unique voices, but here the tone is uniformly bookish. The colloquial speech of the storyteller is replaced by formal prose; for example, while Cohen (see review above) directly translates Chaucer's ``domb as a stoon'' as ``silent as stones,'' Hastings writes ``in solemn silence.'' Cartwright's startling paintings skillfully suggest the stylized flatness of a medieval canvas, but often without the accompanying richness of detail. Like Punch and Judy puppets, the faces and voices of these pilgrims are generally representative but lack the life and charm of the original text.

Reviews:
I found this anonymous review on BN.COM that is worth sharing.

A subjective review of a seminal masterwork: I was taught Chaucer including the Canterbury Tales at Harpur College State University of New York by Professor Bernard Huppe. Professor Huppe was the most prominent exponent along with Prof.Robertson of the Christian interpretation of Chaucer. In other words the entire Canterbury Tales were seen as the work of a believing Christian whose anti - clerical passages were a true exposure of the faults of a society of sinners. The high comedy and low were according to Prof. Huppe a way of reenforcing this ideal Christian message. For most readers I suspect the pleasure of Chaucer is less however in the ideology than in the realistic and humorous depiction of character. And there are great characters, often drawn only in a few lines in the prologue .The Wife of Bath is perhaps the most outstanding and memorable of these, but the whole cast taken together provide a kind of typological picture of medieval mankind as a whole. The low laughter, the farce of the Miller's tale, the romantic chivalry of the Knight's tale I must admit never really charmed me. But what I loved in Chaucer and I can hear today Prof . Huppe's rich and deep enunciation was the sound of the lyric and the rich poetry .The music of Chaucer, the swift telling of a character and a story in a few lines, the realistic look at human pretension and foible make the work feel true . One reservation and here my claim has been roundly denied by Chaucerian scholars including the formidable Professor Lawrence Besserman is that the Parson Nun's tale does promote the 'blood libel'. Sophisticated readers however contend that I in reading it this way miss the subtlety of Chaucer's broad humanism. Would that they are right. In any case the delight and disaster of much of human life is in this great work.

Review: The Last Templar


Reviewed by Lisa

Raymond Khoury was born in Lebanon but spent his teenage years in New York, where his family moved in 1975 to escape the Lebanese civil war. Khoury lives in London, with his wife and two young daughters.

I found Khoury's take on the Templars and the mystery surrounding them to be uneven. The book opens with a daring, bloody heist at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and follows the investigation by the FBI and an archeologist who happens to be in the museum at the time. Some of the action scenes are a bit stilted but where the book really gets bogged down is in the explanations of the history of the Templars and the discussions of religion. The interwoven "historical" story is much more interesting. It may be that I just wasn't ready for another book on this subject, but I found myself skipping over parts to get to the end. The book does propose an interesting "what if" which both believers and nonbelievers should enjoy.
Type: Fiction, 544 pages, Trade paperback

Synopsis:
In a hail of fire and flashing sword, as the burning city of Acre falls from the hands of the West in 1291, The Last Templar opens with a young Templar knight, his mentor, and a handful of others escaping to the sea carrying a mysterious chest entrusted to them by the Order's dying Grand Master. The ship vanishes without a trace.

In present day Manhattan, four masked horsemen dressed as Templar Knights emerge from Central Park and ride up the Fifth Avenue steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art during the blacktie opening of a Treasures of the Vatican exhibit. Storming through the crowds, the horsemen brutally attack anyone standing between them and their prize. Attending the gala, archaeologist Tess Chaykin watches in silent terror as the leader of the horsemen hones in on one piece in particular, a strange geared device. He utters a few cryptic Latin words as he takes hold of it with reverence before leading the horsemen out and disappearing into the night.

In the aftermath, an FBI investigation is led by anti-terrorist specialist Sean Reilly. Soon, he and Tess are drawn into the dark, hidden history of the crusading Knights, plunging them into a deadly game of cat and mouse with ruthless killers as they race across three continents to recover the lost secret of the Templars.

Reviews:
"What's the next Da Vinci Code? To satisfy your historical-thriller cravings until Dan Brown's next novel, read The Last Templar by Raymond Khoury -- as suspenseful, and with a female lead." - Glamour Magazine (USA)

"There's no doubt that Khoury's Last Templar has one of the most gripping opening scenes among recent thrillers... Khoury is a screenwriter, and his story is nothing if not cinematic, as it skips across three continents and climaxes with a storm at sea of biblical proportions. A nice twist at the end spins the Christian history everyone's been chasing."
- Booklist

"The greatest secret of all… Raymond Khoury makes a memorable debut with this frenetically paced, page-turning adventure. Fans of The Da Vinci Code will love this thrilling blend of conspiracy, action and mystery." - The Mystery and Thriller Club (UK)

Review: Another Mother's Life


Rowan Coleman has written five novels (women’s literature) and is also the author of the Ruby Parker series for girls. Her new novel will be released early 2009, ‘The Accidental Family’. She lives in the UK with her husband and daughter.

After seeing Coleman’s books at the book store for the last year – I finally picked one up. This is an entertaining story about friendship, marriage, family and regret.

Alison and Catherine grew up best friends and never thought they would lead separate lives. At the age of seventeen, Alison and her boyfriend, James, runaway to build a life together.

The story begins 15 years later – Alison and her husband move back to her home town with their three children. Catherine and her soon to be ex-husband live in the same town. As the story unravels we learn that Alison stole Catherine’s true love, James. Catherine never recovered from this betrayal.

This is an interesting psychological character study of a woman who fails to let go of the big hurt that has shaped her relationships even with her husband who loves her.

There is only one review for this novel on BN.COM and I must say I agree with this review, the story has a lot of potential but something overwhelms to the story. I enjoyed the book, it wasn’t a favorite read for me. I will try another book to see if this is Coleman’s writing style or simply this novel.

Type: Fiction, pages, Trade paperback

Synopsis:
Can you ever mend a shattered friendship? From Rowan Coleman, author of the acclaimed bestseller The Accidental Mother, comes a deeply moving novel for every woman who was ever a teenager in love, a mother, or made a heartbreaking decision.

For wealthy Alison James, moving with her family to her hometown of Farmington presents more than a case of relocation jitters. Fifteen years ago, she fled town, eloping with her best friend's boyfriend. Now, blessed with three children, but uneasy in her marriage, she wonders if that decision led her away from the life she was meant to lead.

Catherine Ashley, broke, the mother of two and almost divorced, can't help but wonder the same thing. Although she's content with her children, she finds herself returning again and again to those few weeks fifteen years ago when she fell deeply in love, only to be betrayed by her most trusted friend.

Now, once more living in the same town, Alison and Catherine are about to find out just how different their lives could still be. But this time around they are adults, and while their own happiness is at stake, so is their children's.

Wise and warmhearted, Another Mother's Life will make you laugh and cry -- and think about what you would do when confronted by some of life's most difficult choices.

Reviews:
“An exceptional and touching read about loss and love.” - Booklist

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